Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Buffalo, Funerals and Assumptions

I spent the past three weeks in Indonesia and got an amazing reminder that what is important to someone else might just not be obvious to me.  We stopped in on a two-week funeral ceremony in Tana Toraja on the island of Sulawesi.

The event had taken two years to plan since the death. The hundreds of extended family and friends had come from far and wide, taking big chunks of time off work. That itself had taken a while to get together, but most of all they had needed time to find the appropriate buffaloes to slaughter (about 30 in all were required for this ceremony - also countless pigs): one with extra long horns, a white one, a spotted one, one with one horn up and one horn down and so on.  The deceased had remained in the house for the duration of this planning, with food and cigarettes being provided daily. 

This all made perfect sense to our guide, a wonderful man with whom outwardly we had seemed to have so much in common. 

Note to self (and to you dear reader) it always behoves us to open our minds to what could be important to those with whom we have dealings.  We should not make assumptions, it might not be what we expect.  Even if we know they need a buffalo - did we really understand that they were holding out for one with blue eyes?

A bit of a stretch, do I hear you say? Well maybe. But the idea is valid and how many other blogs do you read with buffalo pix in them?  Here is your correspondent at the weekly Rantepau buffalo market - where the deals get done.

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